Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s Hospitality in the News topic: 6 takeaways from The Restaurant Show.  

In case you (somehow) missed it, the National Restaurant Industry Show was recently held in Chicago from May 20th-23rd. LGC has been proud exhibitors at the Show for the last several years. When we’re not networking, we’re walking around the Show to check out what’s new in the industry. After spending all four days at the Show, here are our 6 key takeaways from The Restaurant Show: 

6 Takeaways from The Restaurant Show 

Big-name brands are thinking out of the box 

There are always big-name brands at the Show but it seems that this year they were more prevalent. And some were showcasing their products in unique ways. For example, Kellogg’s was advertising a walking taco using Cheez-It crackers. Or making fried food using Kellogg’s brand cereal as a coating. Whatever the product is, the goal remains the same: to create more ways to utilize one brand’s products.  

Customization was a common theme throughout the Show, especially with the big brands. In addition to Kellogg’s showing how consumers can customize their products, Kraft Heinz had an automated ‘create your own sauce’ station. These are just a couple of ways attendees were encouraged to ‘choose their own adventure’ at the Restaurant Show. 

LTO’s and seasonal specials will dominate menus 

When trying to attract new or return customers to your business, the name of the game is FOMO: fear of missing out. That’s why limited time offers and seasonal specials will be popular menu features. According to the Technomic session at the National Restaurant Association Show, we’ve been seeing consistent increases to menu offerings since Q3/Q4 2020. By creating urgency, customers will be afraid to miss out, especially on something that people are talking about. 

Sustainability remains at the forefront 

A key theme at the 2022 Restaurant Show was sustainability. The only thing that changed at this year’s show was that sustainability had a bigger piece of the pie. More sustainable product offerings, more technology aimed at sustainability, overall more ways to highlight its’ importance in the foodservice industry. And we can’t imagine this trend disappearing any time soon. 

‘Home’ is the primary competitor to restaurants right now 

There are a few reasons that staying home is a restaurants’ primary competitor. Grocery store prices have a big impact. When groceries are less expensive than dining at a restaurant, customers trying to save money are better off eating at home. Any many believe we’ll continue to see restaurant prices increase as the demand for amazing quality food, a great dining experience, and happy workers remains. 

Concern surrounding price transparency between delivery and takeout is another reason diners may opt to stay home. When leveraging a third-party delivery platform, the total can be much higher than takeout (or even dine-in) because of the taxes and fees associated with using this platform. So much so that consumers are choosing to eat at home rather than spend the extra cash for their favorite meals to come to them.  

Automation is moving to the FOH 

Automation and AI is neither a new topic in the restaurant industry nor in the front-of-house (FOH). But this year one of the key takeaways from the Restaurant Show we saw more technology aimed at the FOH, such as a robot server passing out plates or a demonstration of a robot host. In the next year, what advancements do you think will be made? 

Workers need more than a pay raise to be satisfied 

With fast food wages on the rise, it won’t be surprising when restaurant employee wages rise as well. When that happens, will it be easier to retain workers? Studies show that it won’t. Employees are placing more importance on things like sharing input, schedule predictability, and manager support. Overall, they want to feel more fulfilled in their jobs and that desire won’t dissipate any time soon.